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"FIRST IMPRESSIONS"

15th SUNDAY (B) July 15, 2018

Amos 7: 12-15; Psalm 85: 9-14; Ephesians 1: 3-14; Mark 6: 7-13

by Jude Siciliano, OP

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Dear Preachers:

 

 The 15th

SUNDAY

of Ordinary

Time

These prophets can be so disruptive! Last week we heard how God sent Ezekiel to the rebellious Israelites. Today it is Amos who is stirring things up. He is another prophet of God who has upset a ruler and the priests. It almost seems like that’s the job description of a prophet: a disturber of the comfortable and the powerful.

Amos was a lay prophet of very ordinary circumstances; he was a shepherd and a migrant worker. God called him to leave his home in Judah and travel north to Israel. Jeroboam was the ruler at a time when Israel was prosperous and powerful. The rich and influential lived in splendor and ate sumptuously (3:12, 15). But they were unconcerned about the poor and Amos accused them and their judges of corruption (3:10).

No wonder Amaziah, the high priest, wanted to get rid of him. Amos didn’t associate with one of the guilds of mercenary prophets, who claimed to speak for God and were paid. Rather, he led a very ordinary life and when God called him Amos left all to respond to his call.

I leave tomorrow to give a parish retreat across the country. Let’s see: have I got my laptop, cell phone and cables for both? Have I checked in online for my upcoming flight? Do I have a ride to the airport? Will I have a pickup when I return home? Today’s gospel pricks my conscience as Jesus sends the Twelve on mission and tells them not to provide for what they would usually need for a trip. "Nothing for the journey… no food, no sack, no money in their belts." He does suggest a walking stick and sandals which they will need, since they are on a road trip. He tells them, "not a second tunic" – as I pack my suitcase and hope it’s under the 50 pounds I’m allowed by the airline. Should I just skip over this passage as "not applicable to my situation?" After all I’m not a first century follower of Jesus. Things, I protest, were simpler back then. Many readers have a similar reaction and tend to label today’s gospel as "Not applicable to me."

The disciples would not carry much with them as they went out with "authority over unclean spirits." They would be dependent on God for their effectiveness, and courage. They would also be dependent on the hospitality of those who heard and received them. As preachers of the gospel they would experience a new community formed by those who heard the Word of God and welcomed the ones who brought it to them.

Each gospel narrates a different first miracle by Jesus. For example, in John’s Gospel is the miracle at Cana, when he changed water into wine. The first miracle in each gospel sets up how and what the gospel will reveal about Jesus. The first miracle in Mark’s is when Jesus drives out the devil in the Capernaum synagogue (1:21-28). Mark’s Jesus will show himself to be more powerful than the evils that confront him and oppress humans. At that time people associated physical, psychological, and social problems as the work of demons. Throughout Mark Jesus will perform healing after healing, showing he has power over all manner of evils that afflict humans. Jesus doesn’t spell out the Apostles’ ministry. Instead, he "gave them authority over unclean spirits." That is, power over all sicknesses and sin, the evil spirits that plagued the people.

The apostles might have felt intimidated and afraid to face the forces they knew would resist them. On our own, any task of discipleship might seem beyond our limited gifts, or capacity. But Jesus doesn’t tell the disciples what and how to do what he did. It’s not merely a matter of following orders. The Gospels aren’t just instruction books for the disciples, like an operator’s manual for a computer program. Instead, Jesus sends his apostles out with his very own authority. With that power, the gift of the Holy Spirit, they will know what to do and when and how to do it.

The first and the gospel readings show that you never know whom God will call and what mission he will give them. Prophets seem to pop up everywhere: at parish and city council meetings; rallies for the poor; protests against unfair labor practices; at supermarkets collecting signatures for low-income housing. Thousands have gone to our southern border to protest the treatment of refugees and their children. God has not stopped calling prophets, like Amos, from among ordinary people. Maybe God is calling us to let go of some part of our lives, to be free to proclaim a message, as Amos did, to the powerful and the comfortable.

Why did Jesus send them out in pairs? Was it so they would have a companion when they met resistance? When one was down, the other could encourage them on. Jesus prepares them for the rejection they will surely meet. So that they don’t give up when it happens, he tells them to "shake the dust" from their feet, not lose heart and move on. It’s good to have a companion to share and give support in difficult moments as you try to live and preach the gospel. Since they were in pairs, they would also preach by the example of their partnership. They were not detached agents, but part of a community of witnesses, two people devoted to and excited in their witness to the risen Christ. We Christians are not solitaries, we are a community of support, encouragement and companionship in our shared role of witnessing to the risen Christ.

Jesus speaks to us modern Christians, called as the Twelve were, to go out to preach the gospel. We travel with his authority. He provides us with all we need to proclaim his word; for the authority he gives is his very Spirit with us. We aren’t to be a self-enclosed community and, despite any sense of inadequacy, we are sent out with all that we need. We focus on the essentials and try not to be encumbered on our mission by the extra baggage of fear, or a sense of inadequacy.

It is not just the ordained who are given the missionary task of going forth to preach. By our baptism all of us are called to be prophets. We have been given the authority over evil spirits: racism, poverty, addiction, religious intolerance, etc. We can be assured that Jesus has given us sufficient authority to overcome these evils. Shall we go out and draw from that authority we have?

Click here for a link to this Sunday’s readings:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/071518.cfm

BOOK REVIEW

We have posted a review of :

"VATICAN I – The Council and the Making of the Ultramontane Church"

by JOHN W. O’MALLEY, S. J.

Go to the "Preacher Exchange" webpage and click on Book Reviews

www.preacherexchange.com/bookreviews.htm

JUSTICE BULLETIN BOARD

"I was no prophet, nor have I belonged to a company of prophets"

Amos 7: 14

Poor Amos! Here he was minding his own business of shepherd and mender of sycamore trees when he experiences God calling him to step out from his mundane life. We do not know what made Amos, God’s choice, but we can ascertain that he was just an ordinary person like most of us. Amos probably traveled simply, as Jesus’ disciples are instructed to do in today’s gospel.

Simplifying our physical lives is a good thing for our spiritual lives. It helps us to remember that material possessions are fleeting and that our worth as children of God is not measured by how much or what kind of stuff we have. Simplifying also helps us to focus on what really matters, God’s greatest law--the law of love of God and neighbor.

During summer, when it is too hot to go outside, is the perfect time to clean out closets and re-purpose things you no longer need or use. Here are some local organizations that help others through their thrift stores:

Catholic Parish Outreach--clothing and baby equipment (except car seats) from birth to toddler 5 and food. Helps families in need.

Dress for Success--women’s work clothes and suitable accessories. Helps impoverished women who are re-entering the workforce.

First Baptist Salisbury--clothing and accessories, especially men’s clothing. Gives clothing to the needy twice a week.

Habitat for Humanity Restore--will pick up all kinds of household items except bedding. Helps build affordable housing.

Interact of Wake County--gently used women’s clothes and accessories. Helps women fleeing domestic abuse.

Note in the Pocket--gently used children’s clothing. Helps clothe impoverished school age children.

Wheels 4 Hope--automobiles. Helps those in need of transportation.

Give as if you are giving to someone you love and, if you feel God is calling, speak out for these ministries, like a prophet.

---Barbara Molinari Quinby, MPS

Director of Social Justice Ministries

Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral, Raleigh, NC

FAITH BOOK

Mini-reflections on the Sunday scripture readings designed for persons on the run. "Faith Book" is also brief enough to be posted in the Sunday parish bulletins people take home.

From today’s Book of Amos reading:

[Amos answered Amaziah]

"The Lord took me from following the flock,

and said to me,

‘Go and prophesy to my people Israel."

Reflection:

By our baptism all of us are called to be prophets. We have been given the authority over evil spirits: racism, poverty, addiction, religious intolerance, etc. We can be assured that Jesus has given us sufficient authority to overcome these evils. Shall we go out and draw from that authority we have been given?

So we ask ourselves:

  • What evil do I feel called to confront?
  • Can I trust that Jesus has already given me, the authority I need, to confront it?

POSTCARDS TO DEATH ROW INMATES

"One has to strongly affirm that condemnation to the death penalty is an inhuman measure that humiliates personal dignity, in whatever form it is carried out."
---Pope Francis

Inmates on death row are the most forgotten people in the prison system. Each week I post in this space several inmates’ names and addresses. I invite you to write a postcard to one or more of them to let them know we have not forgotten them. If you like, tell them you heard about them through North Carolina’s, "People of Faith Against the Death Penalty." If the inmate responds you might consider becoming pen pals.

Please write to:

  • Michael Braxton #0043529 (On death row since 11/21/97)
  • Jimmie Lawrence #0597164 (12/11/97)
  • John Williams #0599379 (3/5/98)

----Central Prison, 4285 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-4285

For more information on the Catholic position on the death penalty go to the Catholic Mobilizing Network: http://catholicsmobilizing.org/resources/cacp/

Also, check the interfaith page for People of Faith Against the Death Penalty:  http://www.pfadp.org/

DONATIONS

"First Impressions" is a service to preachers and those wishing to prepare for Sunday worship. It is sponsored by the Dominican Friars. If you would like "First Impressions" sent weekly to a friend, send a note to fr. John Boll, OP at jboll@opsouth.org.

If you would like to support this ministry, please send tax deductible contributions to fr. Jude Siciliano, O.P.

St. Albert Priory, 3150 Vince Hagan Drive, Irving, Texas 75062-4736

Make checks payable to: Dominican Friars. Or, go to our webpage to make an online donation: http://www.PreacherExchanhe.com/donations.htm

ANNOUNCEMENTS

1. We have compiled Four CDS for sale:

  • Individual CDs for each Liturgical Year, A, B or C
  • One combined CD for "Liturgical Years A, B and C."

If you are a preacher, lead a Lectionary-based scripture group, or are a member of a liturgical team, these CDs will be helpful in your preparation process. Individual worshipers report they also use these reflections as they prepare for Sunday liturgy.

You can order the CDs by going to our webpage: www.PreacherExchange.com http://www.PreacherExchange.comand clicking on the "First Impressions" CD link on the left.

2. "Homilías Dominicales" —These Spanish reflections on the Sunday and daily scriptures are written by Dominican sisters and friars. If you or a friend would like to receive these reflections drop a note to fr. John Boll, O.P. at Jboll@opsouth.org.

3. Our webpage: http://www.PreacherExchange.com - Where you will find "Preachers’ Exchange," which includes "First Impressions" and "Homilías Dominicales," as well as articles, book reviews, daily homilies and other material pertinent to preaching.

4. "First Impressions" is a service to preachers and those wishing to prepare for Sunday worship. It is sponsored by the Dominican Friars. If you would like "First Impressions" sent weekly to a friend, send a note to fr. John Boll, OP at the above email address.


Thank you and blessings on your preaching,

fr. Jude Siciliano, O.P.

Jude Siciliano, OP - Click to send email.

 

St. Albert the Great Priory of Texas

3150 Vince Hagan Drive

Irving, Texas 75062-4736

frjude@judeop.org

972-438-1626


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